Cape Cod Stories. or The "Old Home House". 1907. Joseph Crosby Lincoln. A.L. Burt Co., New York

This is an early Lincoln book, frequently reprinted, a collection of 11 short tales slightly linked by "The Old Home House". The Old Home House was a large house on the outskirts of the very small village of Wellmouth Port. It had been inherited by Cap'n Jonadab Wixon, and when he went to inspect the property with his buddy Barzilla Wingate, they were met by con man/entrepreneur Peter T. Brown, who persuaded them to set it up as a hotel catering to the nostalgic rich, by specializing in old-fashioned country food and corn-shuck mattresses. This provides the setting for some of the stories: of hen-pecked husbands with status obsessed wives, fortune-seeking con men, locals even more colorful than Wingate and Wixon, and obnoxious tourists (some things are forever).

But 5 of the tales have nothing to do with the Old Home House, and 3 are not even set on Cape Cod! 2 are tall tales set in the South Pacific, and one is set on the Hudson River. The time settings for Lincoln's novels range from the early 1800's past World War I: Cape Cod Stories is set in the fairly recent past (from 1907).

Lincoln wrote at least most of his books to complement the wave of national nostalgia for the pre-industrial past at the turn of the century. I sympathize with that, and the Cape Cod setting and dialect amplify it for me. I liked the 2 non-hotel Cape Cod stories best: The Mark on the Door and His Native Heath, perhaps because they provide more drama than antique humor.

3/23/01 David Kew

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